Upstairs, downstairs

Michael Wolsey – As I See It

I have been working on a new fitness programme and I feel it is time to share it. I have been developing this routine since the death of my wonderful wife four years ago, and with every year that passes I get better at it.

The great thing about this programme is that there is no need to go to a gym or even to leave the privacy of your own home. And it requires no expensive equipment – no rowing machines or cross trainers, no running gear or swim suits.

All you need is a set of stairs, a pair of reading glasses and a coffee-maker. When you get proficient you may want to add a few other household items to your fitness pack, but those three will do to get you started.

It works like this.

I remember something I have left in a bedroom. It is a very important something and urgently required for the very important things I am about to do. So I go upstairs to get it.

‘On an average day I may make 40 pointless journeys up the stairs and another 40 that are necessary. Frustrated but fit, that’s me.’

I get distracted by something that is also very important, like the headline in yesterday’s newspaper which is lying on the bed. It’s shocking news. Or rather it was shocking news yesterday. Today it’s old news – and it hasn’t happened.

Unfortunately this old news has made me forget the very important thing I came upstairs for. So I go back down.

Today’s paper is on the table. It may have better news, so I look for my glasses to check it out. My wife was very good at finding my glasses. She could never find her own but she was great at finding mine. I am not so good – and if I don’t find them I will not be able to do those very important things.

I check in the kitchen. No sign of the glasses but I see the coffee machine has a capsule ready for insertion. I left it there before I got distracted by the very important things I have to do.

I’ll make that coffee now but … I wonder are my glasses upstairs? I sometimes leave them upstairs in the room with the computer.

I go up and into the bedroom. It’s not the computer room, I know, but I’ve a very important something to collect here. If only I could remember what it is. My glasses? No – they might be in the computer room, though. But there’s no sign of them there so I go downstairs.

Hey, here are the glasses. In the kitchen, beside the coffee machine.

Wrong. The case for the glasses is beside the coffee machine but it is empty. Where are the actual glasses? Upstairs, I’ll bet. I’ll just put on this coffee and then I’ll check.

Or maybe I should look for the glasses first. I have very important things to be doing, after all. I go upstairs.

On an average day I may make 40 pointless journeys up the stairs. Add to that another 40 necessary return journeys and I’m notching up a mini-marathon every 24 hours. Frustrated but fit, that’s me.

I note that two researchers at the University of Toronto have concluded that forgetting is just as important as remembering.

“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world,” they say.

Very wise. I must remember that.